Over the last few days, the world has been incensed by the latest utterances from the Offender-in-Chief, Donald Trump. Responsible institutions, like the UN, and decent people from all walks of life have been voicing their disgust at his categorisation of Haiti and countries in Africa as ‘sh*thole countries’. Many of my friends have taken to social media in a flurry of angry posts and some, including me, have posted a very informative rebuttal by Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua & Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US.
In his article, Sir Ronald outlines Haiti’s long history of abuse by colonial powers like France, which imposed penalties of 90 million gold francs (billions of dollars today) for losing their slaves and plantations. It took Haiti more than 120 years to pay it off, while their so-called free population suffered in poverty. The United States backed France’s claim with regular military interventions and a forced occupation of the country for nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, Haitians immigrants have played their part in defending the US and building its economy. Anyone aware of this history is justified in being offended by Trump’s ignorance and contempt.
However, my take on this is a little different. I’m not shocked by Trump’s crass remarks because that’s what I expect from him. He has already shown us who he is and US voters have chosen him to lead their government. His casual racism has been displayed over many years in business and his recent foray into politics. Yes, we expect better from the ‘leader of the free world’ – but not if it’s Donald Trump.
So, my advice, especially for non-Americans, is that we should move beyond anger and disgust, and focus on more important matters. These include:
- Why do our people risk life, limb and humiliation to migrate to a country that no longer welcomes them?
- Why don’t we raise our voices in anger and disgust at our own leaders who turn our countries into sh*tholes?
- Shouldn’t we be building our developing countries instead of someone else’s developed one?
One of the reasons why I’m in Africa and intend to return to the Caribbean eventually, is that I like the feeling of contributing to creating or building something that either doesn’t exist or needs improvement. Many of my friends and colleagues who are doing amazing things in Nigeria have acquired skills abroad and have returned to make their mark in a broken society. They know that no one else can fix it but them, so they endure the endless inconveniences in order to make a difference.
I believe that the rise of Trump and his emboldened right-wing base, which includes a range of hate groups, should be a wake-up call for black and brown people in the US, UK and Europe. His protectionist, anti-immigration, race-baiting rhetoric should make us all realise that there has always been a sizeable minority who wish we would ‘go home’. The brightest, wealthiest and most capable of us should see this as a wonderful opportunity to build our own countries, utilising all we have learned and earned. Let’s use all the grit and resilience we’ve developed in dealing with harsh climates and even harsher racism, no matter how cleverly veiled, to tackle underdevelopment and poor governance. Let’s reverse the brain-drain that was caused by our emigration.
There will be the inevitable challenges, frustrations and disappointments but there will also be a pride in knowing that your contribution is really important to the development of the society. If you look beyond the crudeness and vulgarity of Trump’s worst qualities, you might find inspiration in his seeming madness. If you can, it will help you on your journey.
- Focus on your goal and don’t stop until you reach it – Has there ever been a more improbable president of the USA? How did it happen? Donald believed he would win when no one else did – even when he was ridiculed, he kept going. He will probably build his Mexican border wall – and it will be totally useless in a world where most drugs are smuggled in boats, planes, submarines and human beings, but I wouldn’t bet against Trump reaching his goal.
- Don’t worry about what other people say – Have you noticed that he doesn’t care about criticism, disagreement or the truth? He just keeps going. Imagine CNN, BBC, New York Times and the rest of the world’s media saying you are wrong – could you deal with that? Donald simply turns to Fox, the one channel that agrees with him, and focuses on that.
- Speak your mind – Often, we don’t like what Trump says but at least we know exactly what he’s thinking! My experience in the UK was that politicians would say all the right things, politically correct and in beautiful English, but their actions would often betray them. It’s better to be honest.
- Build your own country – Unlike Trump, you should know that it takes help from all kinds of people to build a successful economy, but your focus should be on your homeland and not someone else’s.
- Speak your own truth – I’m not suggesting that you begin your own collection of ‘alternative facts’ but I do think that we could be more forthright in calling things as we see them in our own societies. This is especially important when we see injustice, exploitation and abuse, but turn a blind eye, shielded by privilege, and join the silent majority. Speak up.
- Don’t get mad, get even – You can get upset with Trump for being rude about your country but it would be even better to strive for a society whose citizens don’t clamour to leave for a better life elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be cool to be like Norway? They were like, “Why would we emigrate to a country with worse healthcare, more child poverty and a greater chance of getting shot than ours?” Ouch.
I know that some readers will react negatively to the idea that we could learn anything from a Neanderthal like Trump but, as the saying goes, ‘Even a broken clock is right twice a day’. You can learn from anyone. This is an unprecedented period in US governance and it’s having an effect on the whole world because of their outsized international influence. Let’s use this opportunity wisely, rather than become victims in someone else’s game. Let’s learn from Trump and use it to our own advantage.
To prove you can learn from anyone, here are my favourite quotes from some of history’s most notorious leaders:
“It takes less courage to criticise the decisions of others than to stand by your own.” ~ Attila the Hun, barbarian leader who slaughtered thousands to conquer Europe
“Better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” ~ Benito Mussolini, Fascist Italian dictator and ally of Adolf Hitler
“Words build bridges into unexplored regions.” ~ Adolf Hitler, Führer of Nazi Germany and instigator of World War 2, responsible for the extermination of millions of Jews
“He who stops being better, stops being good.” ~ Oliver Cromwell, English dictator, responsible for Irish genocide
“Impossible is a word found only in the dictionary of fools.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor and conqueror of Europe
“Don’t drink at all, don’t smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit.” ~ Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean dictator
16 thoughts on “Lessons we can learn from Trump”
Very nice piece of your truth. I agree
Thanks Ada. Always great to hear from you.
Great commentary! It has been a dream of mine to return to Jamaica but unfortunately friends and family who reside on the island discourage me as soon as I mention returning. I feel I can contribute my skills and knowledge acquired overseas to help whose in my profession and will start to lay a foundation to return to my beloved island. I cannot let the naysayers influence my decision as they only see living on the island as a hindrance to their lives. Not me!!
Marlene, my darling, it’s been too long! Millions of people live there in Peace and prosperity, in spite of the challenges. Millions more visit for the vacation of a lifetime, even as the naysayers warn you. You’ve lived in Jamaica before and so have I, before we had skills and our own money. Living in Nigeria has cured any fear I have of returning to Jamaica, which is far more developed, and even here you can have a very good life. I will see you there!
Good read, I’ll be returning to JA permanently in a couple years.
Excellent. See you there!
I like what Frantz Duval said in the article below so I’ll just replicate:
Frantz Duval, the editor in chief of Haiti’s largest newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, took to Twitter to describe Mr. Trump’s words as an opportunity to rouse Haiti’s citizens and rebuild the country, which is still recovering from a deadly earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010.
“Now that the whole world is aware, are we going to take pleasure in this image?” he wrote. “Nothing to change it? Are we going to continue to feed the clutter and silly stupid things that serve us as ornaments?
From Norway to Haiti, Trump’s Comments Stir Fresh Outrage – The New York Times
Offensive though the language might be but there’s a nugget of truth – that’s why so many people are hurt.
Do pardon the colourful language in the following that transpired on my Alma Mater chat after I posted President Trump’s comment:
HIM- I agree with the encouragement to do better but I don’t agree that I should accept that I am a shit-hole citizen because a “shit-hole” (?) US President says so.
When you call yourself a fool, you know it is friendly fire, constructive criticism, if you like… but when a stranger does same, he may just want to get you down. There is a big difference between the two.
ME- Okay. Are U a shithole shitty person? That’s when U should be offended is if U are. We have collectively let this country go to shit by celebrating obscure men who are perfidious and scoundrels to boot. A little aside on friendly fire: when Black Americans refer to themselves as Niggas it can also be derogatory and leads to the tag line of that classic movie Boys in the Hood “The problem with black on black violence is that no one sees it”. The vast majority have been politically correct and so have not seen our continental condition.
You’ve got it spot-on IK, we have to accept that we have a problem that only we can fix. After the upset has died down, our people will still be queuing at the US Embassy or risking their lives in an illegal crossing of continents. Maybe this will spur some of us into action.
Amazing article! This one really resonated with me. I’m currently making plans to return home and serve my people. I pray that all your plans will come to fruition. I’m very proud of you! Keep writing …..
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks Patrick, it’s so good to hear from you! I pray that many of us find the courage to go home – that’s how the Jews built Israel. They’ve built a relatively advanced nation in 70 years, thanks to hard work, innovation and the support of other countries. We could do the same.
Michael, Your admonition is spot on. Youths must commence a ‘non violent revolution’ to change the existing status quo of ‘forever promising’ and ‘never delivering’ old politicians, who stagnate the growth of this nation.
Getting young achieving Nigerian professionals who have ‘sincerity&purpose’ to return back home is a tall order but it can be pushed by ‘each-one-get-one-home’ drive. It is important that such ‘self-exiled’ professionals come back home and participate in politics. The ‘not too young to run’ campaign must be pursued with sincerity and determination to activate processes that will help a true ‘change’ project. Nigerian youths truly yearn for change, we are barely hanging on. You have always attempted to stir that fire and resolve in us to seek the ‘right’ things and make the ‘right’ efforts. Some of us do, but the results from ‘hangin-on’ to true causes’ are quite frustrating.
Hi Charlz, it’s definitely not an easy process, especially when no one is uniting around a single vision of what Nigeria is supposed to be. For some, it’s as simple as, ‘just give us light’, such are the low expectations of a people who have been battered into submission. Those old politicians have succeeded in dividing the nation for their own purposes and the fractures will have to be healed before Nigerians find common ground. I pray you find it.
Thanks Eche. Incisive as ever!